by hope | May 17, 2022 | Inspirational
By now, you will be fully aware that protecting your mental health is just as important as your physical wellness. Keeping stress levels low during daily activities will be one of the most effective ways to make it happen and make life less stressful.
Modern life is stressful, but making a conscious effort to eliminate it through the following ideas should make a world of difference.
Declutter the home
We are all influenced by our surroundings, especially at home. Therefore, taking the time to declutter the home can be the perfect way to also declutter your mind. Your home will feel larger and gain a sense of tranquillity that can significantly enhance your mindset.
The benefits of decluttering the home can also extend to reduced maintenance and cleaning, as well as improved family health. With more time on your hands and fewer illnesses, you’ll be in a far happier place.
Invest in your physical health
Physical and mental health are very closely linked. As such, it makes sense to start exercising more and paying greater attention to your dietary habits. Incorporating workouts into your life, for example, can yield progress within weeks. If you want to make your life less stressful consider getting more physical.
As well as eating the right things and staying active, you should invest in your sleep patterns. Getting 7-9 hours each night, with a regular pattern that avoids screens before bed, you will notice big upgrades. You’ll feel far less stressed as a result.
Alter your relationship with tech to make life less stressful
Modern tech features can have a hugely beneficial impact on daily lifestyle matters. However, we have all experienced stressful moments as a result of tech products too. A little time spent improving device performance levels can work wonders.
Learning how to free up the scratch disk on Mac, for example, can prevent unexpected application closures or the inability to save files. Similarly, removing duplicate files from your hard drive or smartphone’s internal memory can aid speed. Perfect.
Cut down your social media time
We all use social media to keep in touch with friends and stay updated on the latest celebrity news. However, too much time looking at newsfeeds filled with people living their best lives can lead to FOMO and a sense of inferiority. It’s not a good way to live.
Time spent in the digital space may also harm productivity levels or impact your sense of ambition and energy. Therefore, limiting your time on social media may be one of the best ways to reduce your active stress levels.
Stop spending time with the wrong people
A winning support network can be one of the greatest tools for maintaining a positive mindset. Conversely, though, a toxic relationship or friends may cause a lot of stress and prevent you from ever feeling relaxed. You must address this issue ASAP.
It may seem like a drastic measure, but taking a step back is vital. Aside from enabling you to invest less time on the wrong people, it’ll help you spend more time with those who matter most. It can help you feel like a brand new person.
Have a space to relax
When life feels stressful, even a few minutes of meditation or conscious relaxation can make a world of difference. Whether it’s a spot in the garage, backyard, or bedroom doesn’t matter. Creating a spot to practice stress-busting activities is an amazing thing.
It could mean playing a relaxing playlist of music, using deep breathing exercises, or embracing an artistic activity. Whatever it is that brings your headspace into a better place, the benefits of finding this solution are huge.
Find a great work-life balance to make life less stressful
A rewarding career is unquestionably one of the most rewarding things you can achieve in life. But it’s important to remember that the purpose of the job is to fund a better lifestyle. Sadly, it’ll be very hard to make this happen if you’re always working.
Of course, finding a job that you love and feel passionate about will aid the cause. Even so, knowing that you have enough time to enjoy hobbies, family life, and days out will be vital. A chance to relax and refresh your mind is essential for long-term success.
Whatever you do, it’ll be impossible to eliminate stress entirely. When negativity is kept inside will only enable stress levels to grow. Talking to a mental health expert can be hugely rewarding when tough moments surface. It instantly lifts a weight from your shoulders.
Even if you are simply experiencing short-term stressful moments, talking to friends and family can be very useful. Online and local groups of people going through similar issues will bring immediate and long-term rewards too.
by hope | Jan 27, 2022 | Lifestyle, Mental Health
We all need time and space to relax in life. If we spend too much time working hard and pushing our limits, our mental health can start to suffer, and that’s not something you ever want to experience. We’re going to talk today about some of the best relaxation methods you can start to use if you’re going to aid your mental health going forward. So read on to find out all about the best options.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
If you haven’t heard of progressive muscle relaxation before, it’s an approach to relaxation that involves the tensing of the muscles in coordination with breathing. You tense certain muscle groups as you breathe in and then relax them as you breathe out. And you do this over and over as you focus on your muscles and your breathing and nothing else. It can help you relax.
Learn Meditation Techniques
Meditation is a great way to clear your mind of any worries and concerns and focus on breathing or nothing at all. It’s a great benefit to your mental health and something you should take the time to explore and learn more about if you never have before. There are also lots of different types of meditation, so there’s sure to be one out there that appeals to you in some way.
Some people find it very relaxing to use a technique known as visualization. As the name suggests, this is when you take the time to visualize something positive, something happy, or something that you’re working towards. Seeing it and believing it can be uplifting and helpful when you’re in a stressful situation and want some momentary escape.
Find the Right Relaxing Herbs
There are lots of herbs and plants out there that are known to relax us in a variety of different ways. Lavender is one perfect example, and you can find all kinds of lavender products, from bath to sleep products, that are known to help us relax. On the other end of the spectrum, and depending on their legality in your location, there are cannabis products such as cannabis seeds, CBD, and plenty others that people use to help them relax. Like anything, make sure you do your research before you buy any CBD product as the quality can vary vastly.
When you’re practicing yoga, you’re getting a physical workout, but many people do it for the mental health benefits it brings. Yoga is 1% asana and 99% everything else- LIFE! If you haven’t yet given yoga a go, that’s something that you should probably seek to change. It can be one of the best ways to help you relax and focus on nothing at all. And don’t stress, there are dozens of styles, methods, teachers, and approaches, if you try one and it’s not your cup of tea, then go out and try another.
Now you know all about some of the best and most effective ways of relaxing and taking care of your mental health. All you need to do is start making the most of them. Try them out and see which of them work best for you. After all, each of us is different and different options work for us. Trial and error help a lot here.
Learn more about Hope
Want to learn more about Hope Zvara and how she helps others move their mind and their body…
Check out Hope’s feature on the 2x Emmy Nominated Show STARTUP on PBS, Amazon Prime, World Network, and Create Network
by Hope Zvara | Jan 17, 2022 | Lifestyle
We are at our greatest when we are well. We are tempted to stay on the couch, consume junk food, watch TV, or check social media. But is it that easy to stay healthy?
Photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels
Changes are required to sustain a healthy lifestyle. You may find it tough to adapt at first, but you will be convinced once you see the difference. Let’s find out how to live a healthy lifestyle with a few simple changes.
Choose A Healthy Diet
It may be challenging to choose a healthy diet, but you will achieve it with a bit of effort. The first step is to eat more fruits and vegetables; you may acquire them at your local farmer’s market. Consume legumes, nuts, seeds, lean meat, and whole grains to help maintain a healthy digestive system.
When eating out, pick dishes cooked with fresh ingredients. Enjoy dinner without your phone or TV. Also, we are what we eat. We need to eat healthy to stay healthy.
We spend lots of time indoors, typically behind a computer for hours. Getting up and moving is one of the first measures towards health. What important is that you are moving your body, training your muscles, and greasing your joints.
Physical activity can help improve symptoms of numerous diseases. It can aid with decreased muscle tone and can be used to treat conditions like plantar fasciitis. If you have such issues, you can always investigate alternative treatment options. You can have a foot massage, foot spa, or foot roller. All of these devices are developed to relax tense muscles and relieve pain.
Dehydration is one of the leading causes of poor health. We inhibit our organs and systems from working correctly by not drinking enough water.
Eight glasses of water each day is the minimum suggested. Be careful not to drink too much tea, caffeine, or soda, or your body might regret it. Some of these drinks are diuretic, aggravating dehydration. Sugary foods increase the risk of diabetes and hypertension. Water quenches our thirst and hydrates us. That’s it. We also perform better when well hydrated.
Getting 7-8 Hours Of Sleep
Our bodies have a circadian rhythm. We are made to be active during the day and sleep at night. We tend to work late and sleep late nowadays; we spend more time staring at devices and complaining of insomnia. Sleep deprivation can lead to chronic health issues and decreased performance.
The apparent option is to get the recommended 7–8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep hygiene is also essential. For example, never eat a big meal before bed. Your body will be too busy digesting all of that meal to sleep. Prevent spending far too much time on your smartphone or watching TV before bedtime. Finally, make sure your space isn’t too hot or too dry. This is something I teach all of my truck drivers with Mother Trucker Yoga when it comes to truck driver health.
Let Go Of Being Occupied
This is perhaps one of the most critical elements in chronic illness. We’ve gotten used to working 24/7, no matter what. We spend a little less time outside and are always connected. While we should value technology, moderation is the key to healthy living, as is it important to enjoy things such as alcohol in moderation. If you feel you need help, Sunshine Behavioral Health can help you.
Physical fun is a great way to stay fit and happy mentally. Instead of perusing social networks and feeling left out, do something when you come home. Go for a walk, play tennis, or swim. Being busy is not glamorous, and it will not make you feel well.
Work effectively and moderately in balance, reduce your stress and remain active. Also, remember to have fun because it’s a great way to relax. Remember it’s the small simple change that leads to the big results in your life you are looking for.
by hope | Sep 6, 2021 | Lifestyle
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Do you sometimes feel that you’re getting mixed messages about conducting your relationship with your partner? You’ll often hear the culture screaming something in your ear, but your instinct is saying that you should do something different.
If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. It turns out that there is some pretty toxic relationship advice out there. Here are some examples:
Spending Long Time Apart
Spending a long time away from your partner is usually a sign of a serious problem in the relationship – or, at least, that’s how many people see it.
But does it have to be that way? It turns out that spending time apart is actually quite a healthy habit. It gives people time to process the irrational beliefs about their partners and see them more fully as human beings.
In many cases, we can allow ourselves to be consumed by the person we are infatuated with. It is an intoxicating experience and can lead to sleepless nights. All we want is to be close to them.
Unfortunately, when you take this approach, your personality changes. You become somebody different from who your partner fell in love within the first place. Eventually, one person begins to feel suffocated.
Feeling Attracted To Somebody Outside The Relationship
People get into a lot of trouble for feeling attracted to people outside of the relationship. We want to believe that we only have eyes for our partners and never look at anybody else. And the same works the other way: we want our partners to only think of us.
We know from our own experience, though, that this isn’t realistic. Everyone is capable of finding multiple people attractive, regardless of their relationship status.
The trick here is to process these feelings healthily. Don’t bottle them up. Instead, accept the fact that you are attracted to somebody else and then let it go. Try to avoid suppressing feelings or anything like that. And have a conversation with your partner about what you are experiencing, and you might be surprised that they are feeling the same way now and then.
Having The Ability To End It
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In our romantic culture, we believe that relationships should be as permanent as a vasectomy. They are for life.
But this approach leads to all kinds of problems. For one, it eliminates fear in the other person. If they think that you will stick with them forever, no matter what, they won’t worry if they treat you badly. They may behave terribly, knowing that you will stay by their side.
But if they think that you have the power to end it, they will “behave themselves,” and the hope is they start to work on themselves. Self-awareness is a powerful thing and sometimes in a relationship the partner is the one to help push them in that direction. Becoming more mindful and watch what they say and how it affects you. And hopefully, they will make every effort to improve their lives so that they provide you with value. This is healthy empowerment. We get comfortable from time to time, and having someone there to push us even on a relationship level can be a good thing.
Allowing Conflicts To Go Unresolved
Lastly, we believe that we need to resolve every conflict in our relationships to succeed. You shouldn’t go to bed on an argument – or so the saying goes. But it turns out that just letting go of conflict is okay too. You and your partner can disagree on things. You don’t have to agree on everything. Many of the most successful couples allow conflict to rumble on for decades. But don’t forget to manage that conflict in healthy ways rather than let it fester. Think about what matters, and when it comes down to it, not having a picture-perfect relationship doesn’t mean you don’t have a good one. Even a great one.
by Hope Zvara | May 6, 2021 | Mental Health
Take a breath….
Breathing is one of those things we all do, yet we rarely think about it; when a system like the respiratory works without us having to think about it or make it happen, it’s called “involuntary.” The respiratory system has the unique ability to work all on its own without our help, unlike the muscular system, which works voluntarily.
This month is Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s a perfect time to tune in and tap into how powerful our breath actually is.
When we breathe, we get this precious gift called life. We can survive 21 days without food, seven days without water but can only go one to three minutes without oxygen. And at the 60-second mark, brain cells are already dying. Yet after 20 years of teaching yoga to others, there is one thing I have come to find, many do not like to breathe. I would often notice few would appreciate the art of breathing practices (pranayama) in yoga. You could see people start to fidget, become distracted, and even get annoyed at the idea that they weren’t “doing anything” during their yoga class. Yet without the ability to breathe, nothing on the yoga mat would even be possible.
Breathing is a tool. Those that learn to harness the device and tap into its vast abilities to improve, help and even heal the body get to reap the benefits of increased vitality, health, and happiness. But time and time again, I have observed others choose pills, alcohol, and even violence to manage what we all call stress or our emotions rather than tap into this tool we are all born with and have access to us at any given time.
Stress can alter just about any system in the body if we allow it to.
- Raise our blood pressure
- Increase our heart rate
- Increase our body temperature
- Leave us in physical pain
- Can decrease our immune system
- Give us stomach discomfort
- Make it difficult to sleep
- Can affect your libido
- Tense your muscles
- Cause weight gain
- Burden your nervous system
- Leave shallow breathing
When is the last time you felt the effects of any of the above and thought you should practice deep breathing?
When my oldest son was small, and he’d get stressed out, the first thing I would have him do is deep breathing. Three deep breaths, I’d say, and we’d do them together. He’s now nearly a teenager, and I have observed him repeatedly defaulting to deep breathing when he is stressed, angry, frustrated, or can’t sleep. He automatically uses this incredible tool we all walk around with every day but rarely tap use voluntarily.
The average American breathes with less than 18% of their lung capacity. That’s what I like to call clavicle breathing. It’s no wonder we are a stressed-out, upset, unhealthy out of touch society. I say these are the very things I have felt before yoga and learning how to tap into my breathing. And the same things I think when I’m not in my body, using my breathing, and feeling grounded in my skin.
How do we breathe?
The average person takes about ten breaths per minute; that’s an average of 22,000-24,000 breaths per day. That’s a lot of breathing. And when we breathe, we inhale necessary oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide and toxins that our body wants to remove. When we breathe, our lungs expand and take in air, and our diaphragm lowers and expands as well, taking in oxygen to then be distributed out to the millions of cells throughout our body that need that fresh oxygen to live.
Dr. James Hoyt, a pulmonologist, says, “Our respiratory muscles don’t have the luxury of being out of shape.” Yet how many people can say with certainty that they use them, work them, build them like their bicep regularly? There is a saying, “use it or lose it,” and it fits here with our breathing.
A recent study in the Journal of Neurophysiology may support this, revealing that several brain regions linked to emotion, attention, and body awareness are activated when we pay attention to our breath.
And, also nearly every system in the body is connected to our respiratory system or breathing.
- Our metabolism increases when we practice deep breathing.
- Our autonomic nervous system regulates when we deep breathe.
- Our digestion can settle and improve when deep breathing.
- Our muscles relax and get total oxygen, helping them not to cramp.
- Our lymphatic systems become stimulated, hand and hand, with our immune system, both stimulated when we breathe.
- Our body is fully oxygenated when we deep breathe.
And one of our deep breathing’s most impressive features is that it stimulates our vegas nerve.
What is the vagus nerve?
The vagus nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves, extending from the brainstem to the abdomen through multiple organs, including the heart, esophagus, and lungs. It controls the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which contains your relaxation response. Most people never breathe deep enough to stimulate this impressive nerve. We need the vagus nerve to be alive and working because the vagus nerve controls your mood, heart rate, digestion, and immune response. Stimulating your vagus nerve can help to regulate many functions in your body.
Vagus nerve stimulation has been linked to treating epilepsy, improving digestive conditions, reducing inflammation, and managing anxiety disorders. The journal Frontiers in Neuroscience reported in 2018 that the poor function of the vagus nerve could lead to mood and anxiety disorders. But most importantly, when you stimulate the vagus nerve, you can reduce anxiety, stress, and mood disorders. All of this can happen when you learn to breathe more deeply and more often.
WAKE UP, PEOPLE! BREATHING IS FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Where does your breathing fall?
Clavicle Breathers: Those that breathe only into the upper chest, throat, and shoulders. These breathers often have lifted shoulders and a tense neck.
Chest Breathers: Those that breathe into the center of the chest.
Abdominal Breathers: Those that breathe deep into the belly and feel their lungs and abdomen expand freely.
We have forgotten our unique ability to help and heal ourselves. When you were a baby, no one had to tell you how to breathe, yet there you were, breathing so deeply that your entire torso was expanding and contracting every breath you took. I have listened and watched my children as infants, and now adolescents get upset and even cry only to default to their breathing to calm them down. It’s in you; you have done it; you have just forgotten how to do it.
Deep Abdominal Breathing Technique:
- Sitting tall or lying down comfortably, place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart/chest.
- Exhale completely through your mouth and hear your breath move out of your body.
- Inhale through your nose and move your breath deeply into your lower hand (belly) and feel it expand. Continue to move your breath up to notice your upper hand (chest) rise.
- Exhale slowly move the air out, feeling your belly collapse and your chest lower (in any order).
- Soften your jaw and relax your body, focus on fully emptying your belly when you exhale and fully expanding when you inhale.
- Work yourself up towards a count of four counts on the inhale and eight on the exhale.
- Repeat this for two to five minutes.
- Anytime your mind wanders, bring it back to your breathing.
- Allow yourself to hear your breath each time you inhale and exhale.
Continue this practice daily in the morning to wake up, when you are feeling stressed, waiting in traffic (minus the hands-on your body), or before you go to sleep to help you relax.
You have tools to help you breathe, relax, fall asleep. The real question is, are you using them?
Deep Abdominal Breathing Benefits:
Various deep abdominal breathing forms have been linked to cardiovascular benefits, including increased blood flow and improved blood pressure. Deep breathing is also a helpful tool for relaxation and sleep. Taking deep breaths can also help you manage stress and improve cognitive function like brain fog and lack of focus and concentration.
If every tool you are reaching for is outside of yourself, let me ask you, have you tried the tools you were born with? The tools you were given and are the very tools that make this life possible? The tool I am talking about is your breathing.
For one week, practice deep abdominal breathing at least one time a day. Work to practice it at the same time each day. Set the alarm on your phone or in your calendar and make it a priority. All too often, we say something doesn’t work or help, and we have never really tried it, let alone given it the attention required to see results.
After seven days, come back and let us know how you did. What changed, what you noticed or found.
Now take a deep breath and start living!